I have been watching both the Georgia Tea Party and the Occupy Atlanta protesters and noticed many differences between the two groups. Other than their political ideologies, there are many issues that have not been mentioned in the media.
One difference is the age differential or generational gap. Most that attend a Tea Party have been in the age range of 40 to 70 years old. This group has established themselves with a home, children and grandchildren, but also may use Social Security, Medicaid or be retired. This allows many in the Tea Party to go protest for the day and later go home. They did not want to put up a tent and stay in Town Halls because they have responsibilities at home. In a NYT-CBS poll that polled 1,58- tea party activists, they found that most people made between $30,000 to $100,000, had a High School diploma to College grad and were mainly white and were between 45 and 64 years old.
When it comes to Occupy protesters, many appear to be between the age of 20 to 40 years old. Of course, some go that are older than 40, but they are not the majority. Being 20 to 40 means that some have not bought a house, maybe out of college or grad school, may not have children yet; so they have not yet established themselves with these economic responsibilities. The age or generational gap between the two groups is just one difference. There is also the income gap.
The third difference is the unemployed and homeless. The Tea Party activists protest at Town Halls and outside capital buildings, but they go home after the event, which implies that they have jobs and a residence to go back to. With the Occupy protests, most of the protesters living in parks implies that they do not have jobs or a residence to go back to. NPR did a story “Frustration Over Jobs Unites 'Occupiers' In Boston” by Chris Arnold that shows that many in Occupy Boston were unemployed and frustrated that they cannot find a job, after years of trying. If one is unemployed, then some may be homeless, which is why the 20 to 40 somethings stay in public parks because they have no where else to go.
The fourth difference is who are the backers that pay for these protesters to continue protesting. If both groups are leaderless, there has to be someone that supports them financially for food, posters, printing, bus tours, etc. With the Tea Party, there are: the Tea Party Express sponsored by California Our Country Deserves Better PAC, the Americans for Prosperity funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, the Tea Party Coalition that gets money from retirees, health professionals, financial industries & oil-gas industries, the National Tea Party Federation that consists of over twenty groups, like Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, Richard Viguerie that pioneered direct-mail & Family Research Council. Also other groups like 9/12 Project, John Birch Society, the militia movement the Oath Keepers, Dick Armey's Freedom Works, & the Constition Party founder Howard Phillips that helped create the Moral Majority with Viguerie.
What groups support the Occupy protests? Of course, they just started and it took less than a year for the Tea Party to get such support, but the Occupiers do not have the same economic support in the millions, as the Tea Party. In the article “Occupy Wall Street Shows Muscle, Raises $300K” by Verena Dobnik shows the Occupy Wall Street got money from donations on their website or gaven “money in person at the park” and offices were donated by the United Federation of Teachers. This is just one city protest, but where is the corporate sponsors & PACs on the Left for the Occupiers throughout America? This is a hugh difference from the Tea Party.
Lastly, the largest difference is the spread of the two movements. It took less than a year for the Tea Party to go nation wide. It took less than a month for the Occupy protesters to go globally. Even though both protests have similarities, like the protesters are mostly white and both claim to be leaderless. Both don't want to be part of the establishment in Washington D.C., but their differences outweigh many of their similarities. When it comes to age, income, financial backers & expansion of the two protest groups, one cannot deny the larger differences.